There were four types of tradesmen I encountered when I was an apprentice.
There were the tradesmen that enjoyed my presence onsite and couldn’t wait to tell their wives/girlfriends at dinner about how they worked alongside a female tradie. How did I know this? By the second day of working with such tradesmen, they would share at smoko how their missus responded with ‘go girl’ or ‘that’s awesome’. These tradesmen were gentlemen and were the best type of colleagues and managers to work with and for.
Then there were the tradesmen that wouldn’t say to my face they didn’t want me on site, but their demeanor said otherwise. Picking on the small hoop earrings I wore to site as it was an OHS issue, when another tradesman who had a single hoop or open hole piercing was not picked on. Issue granted, the hoop earrings were a bad idea but it was just one example of many. In essence, it would be one rule for the tradeswomen and something different for the tradesmen. Wanna check out my porn magazine darling? What do you think of this naked woman? My response: nothing. But you’re revealing more of your manhood, and you’re fully clothed.
The third type of tradesman were often managers or long time tradies who had been in the game for a long while. They ignored me onsite – and when I’d answer my dad’s phone, I was invisible. In some ways this treatment was better than the next type of male tradesman;
The chauvinistic tradesman who would scoff to my face (and anyone who cared to listen) I belonged behind the kitchen sink and not under it. Is it really a problem if a woman wants to do both?
Last week I saw a photo get shared on Facebook by A Woman’s Spark (a female solar service company), with 4 tradeswomen posing on a jobsite. The comments from men were humorous and revealed equality on the worksite has a long way to go.
“Bitches seems to be in the wrong place get back in the kitchen!”
“What’re they actually doing? House looks like it was done ages ago”
“bet 2 blokes could do it quicker”
“To get to the kitchen you go “in” the house not “on”
“Really 3 people to hold one ladder…..”
And then this intelligent comment:
“Women can’t be sparkies”
I’m not going to share the names of the men who typed these comments, and there were heaps similar to this. All trying to outdo each other with their chauvinism and sexism. How inspiring.
Unfortunately, the post is proof (even if the comments were made in jest) guys still find it hard to accept women having a go on the tools.
So how does one respond to chauvinistic garbage?
Ignore it? Or respond with a witty answer? Tell them their brain is the size of their balls? (Wish I had the balls to use this one when I was onsite!)
We simply don’t have to respond because the joke is on them.
The world is slowly changing and like technology, old mindsets are boring, sad and unattractive.
Back in the day of my apprenticeship and working alongside other tradesmen, my response was often silence – with a dose of fear because I knew I was outnumbered.
It can be an intimidating environment to be in, even as a grown woman.
I know there are female tradeswomen and apprentices who face chauvinistic tradesmen day in and out on the job, not only in Australia, but around the world.
Ladies, the best response is to do your job well and to finish what you started.
The second thing you can do is to test them with this response, ‘Is that what you really think? That’s such old thinking. You are so much better than that.’
And tradesmen, you are better than that.
Old thinking can come back to bite you. A limited mind gets left behind.
How do you respond to chauvinism? Does it even require a response?